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Aquaponics and FinTech: Growing Financial Literacy for First-Time Homebuyers

April 04, 2016

If you're thinking of homeownership in the not-so-distant future, you may be wondering, “Fish and finances? How can this help me prepare for buying a home?” Don’t worry, we’re going somewhere with this.  Aquaponics (like FinTech) sounds complicated, but the idea is really quite simple. In a closed-loop growing environment (just think of a circle), fish use plants for nutrients and plants use fish for fertilization. Each element within the environment supports the other. This is called a symbiotic environment. These environments are self sustaining, making them efficient systems that could provide a reliable food source right in your soon-to-be backyard.

Finding Financial Balance

In a lot of ways, aquaponics is like financial literacy and home buying. When creating a symbiotic environment, everything must be in balance. Similarly, to create a symbiotic lifestyle, your finances must be in a balance. If you’re like, well, all of us, you probably didn’t learn how to balance a checkbook in high school. Along with budgeting for essentials like groceries and Netflix, you may be worrying about paying off some debt like student loans or a car payment. Financial literacy is required for a person to have a symbiotic relationship with their bank account; one that could eventually provide some shelter, with a nice picket fence and a yard for the dog. Not to fear. Much like when aquaponics doesn’t quite balance out, technology is here to save the day.


Tech, Fins and Finances

In aquaponics, there are several factors that could disrupt the balance of the closed environment. Too many fish here, too much water there, anything out of sync could throw off the symbiosis. Aquaponics enthusiasts are beginning to use technology to help monitor and correct imbalances. Modern aquaponics systems, like the one built by DIY-er Rik Kretzinger, create sophisticated ways to keep the environment in check using internet access and open-source software. These tech-inspired systems can even go so far as to send personalized e-mail and text message alerts, like: “Yo! Your symbiotic environment is on point today.” These systems are also able to track and log data for further analysis.

Like emerging innovations in aquaponics that focus on automation and real-time notifications, there’s plenty of FinTech (Financial Technology) to help the financially hapless. Several apps exist that help to promote financial literacy and all-around financial awareness. Some apps send alerts when your bills are due or if you’re in danger of overdue fines. Others help the most hopeless of us save money and create budgets. If you’re the entrepreneur-type looking to invest, they even have an app for that. The best thing about these apps is that most of them are easy to use, and some of them even make a game out of saving your own money. But do people really use these apps?

Yes. Especially young college students looking to get better at adulting. 70 percent of Millennials use banking apps or other kinds of FinTech to help them better manage their money. We asked University of Nevada, Reno student Erin Fuss how she uses tech to grow her financial literacy.

NHD: “What finance apps do you use and why?”

Erin: “My favorite app is Mint. It’s made by intuit, I like it because you can combine banks accounts on one screen, set savings goals, and create a budget that’s realistic based on your history of spending. It automatically tracks your purchases and divides them into different categories like “eating out” “Groceries” “rent”, and makes it easy to be aware in the future.”

NHD: “Why is it important for young people to be financially literate?”

Erin: “Money doesn’t grow on trees. You can’t build savings up in a night. Things like credit scores and emergency funds are ever-looming and take a long time to repair if they’re damaged. It’s a good way to plan for your future and give yourself peace of mind. You don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck, being financially literate and in control of your own budget helps you feel secure financially and emotionally! It makes you feel like you’re adulting! Things like a new car or buying your own home seem really far away for a lot of people in my generation, but becoming financially literate brings me one step closer to them.”

FinTech to Homeownership

Much like a symbiotic balance in gardening that creates a sustainable food source, FinTech can help create a sustainable money management system. Being financially literate creates opportunities that can help a young professional realize their dreams of homeownership. Taking control of your budget and your finances are the first step in finding the perfect home for you and your would-be aquaponics garden.


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